What A Wonderful World



Scene Title What a Wonderful World
Synopsis A Traveler takes a moment to take stock — of the road he's walked, and of where he stands.
Date December 24, 2019

Herkimer Apartments

Elmhurst, The NYC Safe Zone

December 24, 2019

11:55 pm

In a cold apartment, in a rundown building, Silas Mackenzie sits alone at a wobbly kitchen table and stares off into the distance. Silas Mackenzie, he muses to himself, considering the name; it's rare that he even lets himself think that name these days, especially in connection with himself. After all, in this world, Silas Mackenzie is a heinous killer. But today is the anniversary of the day he was first born; if ever there's a time to take off all the masks, this is it. So for today, at least, 'Silas Mackenzie' it is, if only in the depths of his own mind.

Directly in front of him sits a single store-bought cupcake, the lit stub of a birthday candle sticking out of the top.

Happy birthday to me, he sings silently to himself, his gaze slipping past the wavering flame of the candle, out the window. On the other side, the lights of the Safe Zone burn against the night sky. They remind him of another place, another time, sitting

in the corner of the Forthright's main cabin, a hefty slice of fruitcake sitting on a plate in front of him. There's enough rum in the thing that he can smell it from here; the cake hadn't come cheap, but they'd had a good holiday haul, and he's never yet seen a holiday lean enough to make Mad Eve skimp on the partying. The captain herself is over in the other corner, cackling to herself as she spikes the punch bowl; she isn't being terribly subtle about it, but everyone pretends not to notice anyway. It's a holiday tradition.

Happy birthday to me, Silas sings silently to himself, listening to all the laughter, the revelry from his corner chair, listening as the crew swaps bawdy jokes and innuendos, both jokes and innuendo growing increasingly steamy as the evening progresses. Occasionally he chimes in with one himself, but never seriously. December is the worst month for him, and Christmas Eve is the worst of all; the laughter and merriment of the Forthright's holiday revelry can stave off what's coming, but they can't prevent it.

Even now, even as Silas laughs and smiles and throws out the occasional one-liner, inside he's growing more restless; inside, a part of him feels like standing up, screaming, and throwing himself into the sea. But he doesn't. Not now. Not yet. Instead, he soaks up the revelry for awhile longer even in the face of the storm building within him, and continues his silent song. Happy

birthday dear Silas; happy birthday to me! Silas finishes his song, shaking his head as his mind wanders back to the here and now. He chuckles, then takes a deep breath — it barely even hurts anymore! — and blows out his candle. The cupcake under it isn't particularly appetizing, but it's cheap; also it probably won't kill him, despite smelling as though it's made entirely of lard, sugar, the ghost of year-old chocolate, and a heaping helping of questionably non-toxic chemical preservatives approaching their expiration date. Under other circumstances he'd pitch it and make something better himself, despite baking not being his strong suit; now, though, he downs in three bites, and relishes it.

Silas sighs contentedly and shoves the plate aside, only the candlestub and a few crumbs of chocolate remaining, then reaches over to the edge of the table and starts drawing in the items gathered there, one by one. The first is a bottle of bourbon — half empty, but a good brand. Of course it is; Silas bought this very bottle, half a year and half a lifetime ago, to bring to Kain as a housewarming present. Kain, being the cautious sort he was, had apparently stashed it here. Well. Had apparently stashed most of it here; Silas has certainly contributed to its half empty condition, but he's not the only one.

The next item he pulls in is a fogged, chipped shot glass. That one's all Kain; only one in the house, too. He eyes it for a moment, then snickers and sets it beside the bottle.

Finally — not without a moment of hesitation — he reaches over and picks up the third item.

The gun.

Silas stares at it for a long moment. It's a revolver — well-worn, but serviceable. He picks it up, tilting his head and regarding it with an almost quizzical expression. He swings out the fully-loaded cylinder

and unloads the cylinders — all except one. For a moment, he stares at the gun — kludged together, heavily worn, but still functional — then he spins the cylinder. Round and round and round it goes, where the bullet stops, nobody knows. He snaps the cylinder back into place, not looking, not wanting to know where the bullet lies.

He pauses for a moment, staring around his room, his eyes slipping past the handful of potted plants he has (herbs and spices), out the window he'd traded with Queen Lowe for, over the lights of the Pelago… then, with a dreamlike sense of unreality, he raises his junk pistol to his head.

"Another year. Another year, and I'm still alive. Another year, and I'm still alive," he says, his face twisting into a disgusted snarl as he pulls the trigger… and is rewarded with an empty click. Of course he is; it's the first barrel, the first of six. The odds are still in his favor. He laughs to himself. "Double or nothing," he sneers, reaching out to grab a bottle of booze and take a deep gulp. Not his first for the night. Not his fifth, for that matter. He sets the bottle back down, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and his thumb eases back the hammer; the cylinder clicks as it rotates, the next chamber locking into place.

What. What are you doing? a tiny voice asks at the back of his mind.

Silas snorts. "You fucking know what I'm doing," he slurs aloud, pulling the trigger again. Again, that empty click. Two of six.

Yeah, I know what you're doing, but why the fuck are you doing it? Stop it, that voice says, sounding more worried. A little louder now, a little stronger.

Silas only laughs. "Now why would I want to do that? We're just starting to have fun," he says, easing back the hammer and pulling the trigger in one smooth motion, despite the awkward angle. Again, that empty click. "Bah." That one had been three of six; even odds. His aim's drifting a bit; he lines the pistol up again.

Stop it, dammit! If you keep this up, you're going to die! Who's gonna keep the Forthright running then? that annoyingly persistent voice practically howls. Who's gonna cook? Who's gonna have Aces' back?

Now he hesitates, his sneer twisting into something more pained. "They'll find someone else. Someone who isn't a fuckin… shitbag," he says raggedly, the hand holding the gun starting to shake. "Someone who… who…"

The shaking in his hand spreads up his arm, intensifies, consumes him; the gun slips from his shaking fingers, and hits the floor, unnoticed and forgotten. Tears pour from his eyes as he curls in on himself in a silent fugue of grief and anguish, the tidal wave that's been building all day washing over him. Memories bombard him, crush him, drown him — a parade of Silas's Greatest Hits. All the people he's lost. All the horror he's seen, and turned his back on. All the times he'd done the wrong thing for a quick buck. All the times he could have done something better, and hadn't. Everything he's done wrong, and everyone who didn't deserve to suffer for it.

It passes. He's not sure how long it takes, but eventually it passes, leaving him weary and burned out and hung over and bleak and miserable… but sane. He reaches over and picks up the gun, swinging out the cylinder… the bullet had been in the sixth chamber. Just as it always is, every time he plays this stupid little game with himself. "Only three of six, this time. That's somethin, right?" he asks himself. There's no answer; he sighs, and

spins the cylinder, shaking his head. There's still a faint temptation to play a round… but here and now, it's nothing more than a faint echo of l'appel du vide, a ghost of a thought that's easily set aside. "And that… is somethin' I can live with," he murmurs to himself bemusedly.

Silas swings the cylinder back into place, laying the gun down again, and pours himself a shot of bourbon instead. He downs it in one go, letting out a sigh as he feels it burn its way down towards his stomach; he eyes the bottle again, but decides against indulging himself too much. Instead, he picks himself up and shuffles over to the couch, settling there and pulling his blankets around himself… then, after a moment's thought, he reaches out and turns on the small battery powered radio sitting on the coffee table, twisting the frequency dial to try to find something that isn't yet another goddamn cover of Silver Bells or Holly Jolly Christmas.

I see trees of green, red roses too; I see them bloom, for me and you.

Silas smiles, withdrawing his hand and settling back into the couch; his gaze shifts out to the window — to the lights of New York. Fewer than they once might have been, but still there despite everything.

The clock on the wall reads 12:01; his birthday's over. Another year done… and now, maybe, if he can keep ahead of his evil twin, more years to look forward to. His gaze shifts out the window again. Merry Christmas, Kain. Merry Christmas, Asi. Merry Christmas, Elisabeth, Aurora… Richard… Namiko… Cassandra… Isa, Shaw… Denisa, Mala, Lucy… Carina… Chel… Ling… and yeah, you too, Magnes, he thinks, recalling friends and fellow Travelers. He knows how some of them are doing; others, he hasn't seen in awhile. Hope you're all doing well, this Christmas. Hope it was everything you hoped it would be. I hope you're all living the new lives you got, in the best ways you can.

And I think to myself… what a wonderful world.

Then, as his gaze turns back to the window, to the lights blazing against a sea of night, his mind shifts again to the Pelago. Silas smiles — a smile with more than a trace of sorrow to it, but a smile nevertheless — and pulls a charm out of his pocket, a pearl wrapped in silver wire. Running his thumb over the pearl, his gaze shifts back to the window as he thinks of the friends — crew — family that he'd left behind. He wonders if they'd managed to give the Sentinel what they so richly deserved. He wonders if maybe, just maybe, they might be looking out and seeing a view a lot like this one. Merry Christmas, Aces. Merry Christmas, Mad Eve. Merry Christmas, Monica… Atticus…

Merry Christmas to you, wherever you're at — Doyle. Miles. Walter. And Merry Christmas to you, too… Rianna. Joy. Odessa. Elaine, Lynette. Mateo. Thank you for the gift you've given us. Merry Christmas, Crystal; I'm sorry I didn't make it in time. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad; sorry we never really saw eye to eye.

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white; the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.

I'm living the best life I can. That's the only thing I can give you, now, he thinks to himself, and the night beyond. Rest well.

And I think to myself… what a wonderful world.

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